In a courageous interview about the near-death of Netflix, CEO Reed Hastings admitted “I messed up” and “got distracted by the shiny object,” spinning off a business instead of “executing on the fundamentals.”
Here are three of my least favorite ‘shiny objects’ when it comes to leading and motivating people:
- Performance management, and
- Open-space floor plans
All of these give the illusion of progress. They feed a leader’s need to be seen as worthy of his salary and title. But they don’t work. Worse, all of them create distractions that disrupt productivity, sap morale, and dehumanize employees.
So, what really motivates people to do their best work and feel engaged and inspired by a company and its leaders?
Meaningful work aligned with their strengths, and the brain-space to actually make measurable, significant progress on that work.
A leader’s job then is to provide support and remove distractions. Instead, most leaders and companies create environments riddled with distractions and stressors.
It takes a courageous, confident leader to actually learn, listen, and as Hastings puts it, focus on the core strengths of the business and execute. It takes strength of will to avoid so called “best-practice” trends that have no merit.
Want to know the 5 critical ingredients needed for people to truly feel motivated and to do their best work? Check out my Recipe for Brilliance post inspired by research by Dan Pink, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer.
And don’t get distracted by the shiny object.
“Nothing jangles a primate like crowding”
Neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, quoted by David Rock in his article Misunderstanding the Brain is Bad for Business about the downsides of open floor plans.
“Don’t even consider recommending a reorganization. Anyone who requires more than one reorg over the life of his or her career will forfeit a year’s income (including bonuses and stock options) and possibly serve jail time.”
~ Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst “Best” Practices of Business Today by Susan Scott
If you’ve been a victim of shiny-object-leadership, what coping strategies got you through and kept you sane?